Links Daily Devotional

Putting Destructiveness to Death

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24:1-3, ESV)

According to Dictionary.com, habit means “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” The creature of habit resides in all of us and interdependently influences us every day. Destructive and positive habits can coexist, but one is usually jockeying for position over the other. Destructive habits roar the loudest when we feel pressure, fear, or anxiety. These habits are not a respecter of person or skill level, and show up in every area of our lives. Positive habits, on the other hand, are long-suffering and often surface when our internal storms find rest.

When our destructive habits lead us back into the dark, dingy tomb that feels like death, we don’t have to stay bound up in graveclothes.One of the reasons why we diligently practice our golf swings is to turn a poor habit into a positive one. It takes hours of repetition. When I made a significant swing change late in my career, I spent endless hours retraining my muscles to move on a more consistent swing plane. I would find a groove on the practice range and feel like I had it. Then, in the middle of a tournament, when the pressure was turned up, my poor habits would try to sneak back in.

When something becomes “almost involuntary,” it is the place of comfort we return to under stress and inhibits a successful outcome.

This is common in my spiritual life as well. The tentacles of destructive habits still wiggle in me: an apathetic prayer life, pride, doubt, believing I have to earn God’s love, independence, and choosing pig slop over the wedding banquet. When I dance with these destructive habits, I find myself hunkering down in a familiar tomb of death, believing I am unworthy of God’s love and grace.

When we linger in the tombs of our destructive habits, death is palpable. It’s rancid. The air is toxic. Hope disappears. While there is a reason why the tomb holds a specific importance in our stories, it is the repetitive return that is destructive.

In Jewish tradition, it was not a surprise that Mary Magdalene, and several other women, returned to Jesus’ tomb. They were going to finish anointing his body with spices (Mark 16:1) and sit Shiva. Shiva is a structured period of time of mourning that may last up to one year, allowing the mourner to gradually heal by slowly moving through the stages of grief. In the ancient period, mourners would physically sit in the tombs during the first seven days of mourning. Shiva is a beautiful habit that honors death and life. It respects the tomb (death) and in the right time, the mourner experiences a return to life.

When our destructive habits lead us back into the dark, dingy tomb that feels like death, we don’t have to stay bound up in graveclothes. Sitting Shiva here means naming the harm done (to us or toward others), grieving, asking for help, and then choosing to begin again. Mourning the impact of our destructive habits allows Jesus to sit with us in our process of healing, ultimately opening new space for life-giving habits to take shape.

There is no condemnation for when we find ourselves back in our familiar tombs. Jesus is patient and waits at the entrance of our hearts, with arms wide-open. It’s an invitation to return to his light.

Tracy Hanson
April 27, 2017
Copyright 2017 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.